Thursday, August 24, 2006

Game 126: Losing Streaks, Like Beer Bottles, Come In Sixes

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4
Ok, so this game might have been a little important, by which I mean that half of Red Sox Nation might have been contemplating the virtues of the rope versus the poison bottle while the other half ruminated on the vagaries of the Pats secondary had the end result been anything but a W for Boston. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person counting outs by eighth inning in a manner reminiscent (i.e., accompanied by hyperventilation, heavy sweating and short bursts of prayer) of the counting of the final outs of the 2004 World Series. What started out as a contest heavily favored to Boston in the early runnings had turned to a nail bitter by the end and once again I was very thankful that we had the Papal-Bon to close things out when the going got tough.

What is it about our pitching staff that inspires such close contests? I know the Angels have a lineup that’s got some scary points and they do know to score some runs, but after going up 5 – 1 in the second inning thanks to jacks by Papi, Pena and an RBI single by Coco, I was hoping for a rally monkey massacre, for heaps of shattered thunder sticks as all two Angels fans who know anything about baseball wept in despair, letting their fellow fans know that our pitching was throwing innings without par. I wanted an easy victory, because it was late, getting later and I hate West Coast field trips.

Instead we had tight spots every single inning after Lester exited in the fifth (I’d complain about that, too, except it wasn’t clear yesterday morning if his back would relax enough to let him pitch): Tavarez loaded the bases in the sixth and escaped after giving up a run, making the score 5 – 4. Timlin loaded the bases in the seventh with one out before getting a strikeout and a comebacker to the mound so easily that it looked like he had just woken from a nightmare about pitching terribly against New York, shook himself to clear the cobwebs and then resumed his normal setup mastery. Foulke got two outs in the eighth, but also gave up a single to Chone Figgins, who moved to third by a stolen base and a nicely placed ground ball to first by Macier Izturis. Looking for the strikeout, Tito went to Paps, who faced down the dangerous Orland Cabrera (two doubles, a single, a walk, two runs and an RBI on the day) with heat. Remember how as a member of the Sox Cabrera would really swing through things when he missed a pitch? Turns out he still does that – especially on the strikeout pitch.

I’m not going to say we’re out of the woods yet by a long shot, but it was nice to finally get a win again and just as importantly, to see Papelbon dominate batters again. Tonight we do it all over again, with Beckett versus Weaver the Younger, with his 9 and 0 record and 1.95 ERA. Last time these two faced off Beckett didn’t pitch like a retard and the Sox won in extra innings by getting to the Angels bullpen. Let’s see if we can do one better tonight and win in regulation. GO SOX!!!